Friday, May 31, 2013

Volunteers still needed tomorrow at Tour de Fat

FABB will be checking IDs at the Tour de Fat tomorrow, the fun, free bike party at Yards Park in DC. This is a fundraising event for FABB and other local bike groups. We still need a couple of volunteers to help check IDs. Volunteers receive a free t-shirt and beverage tokens.

Put on a crazy outfit, celebrate bike culture in the DC Metro area, and help FABB and other bike non-profits raise much-needed funds to support our advocacy. Contact me if you can help or if you want to join our convoy to the event tomorrow morning.

See you at the festival.


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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Choosing a bike for your child

Image: Washington Post
Todays' Living Local section has a good article entitled "There's a lot riding on that bike" (print) and "Bicycle buying guide: How to choose the right one for your child" (online). Jim Strang of Spokes, Etc. gives good tips to parents looking for a bike for their child.

I especially like the advice to avoid training wheels. Learning to ride a balance bike is the best option in my opinion. The height of training wheels is often set improperly and kids end up riding to one side. Riding with training wheels is basically like riding a big trike and kids don't learn to balance, which is why the process of learning to ride on two wheels becomes difficult.

Here are some of the tips from the article:
1. Think about where your child will be riding. It can be tough to choose between a bike with gears and hand brakes and one with just one speed and coaster brakes. Some bikes are equipped with both. Strang said parents are often concerned that if a child stops suddenly with hand brakes, he will flip over the handle bars. Kids learn quickly, though, and Strang said parents shouldn’t be afraid of hand brakes. “If the goal is to ride on a bike path with the family, with a little practice, gears are going to be helpful,” he said. “But if it’s just for riding around the neighborhood, the better option might be to not get gears, because it makes [riding] simpler.” The same goes for style of tires. If your child will be on hiking trails or other dirt paths, a knobby tire will give better traction. But if it’s mostly neighborhood riding, the standard street tire is fine, Strang said.

2. Find the right fit. Choose the bike based on your child’s size, not age. To check the fit, have her get on the bike. Her knee should be extended about 75 percent of the way when her foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, Strang said. “Typically when you have that, the child can’t put their feet on the ground,” he added. If your child is skittish, you can lower the seat until she becomes more comfortable and then gradually raise it to give her the proper pedal stroke.

3. Go lightweight. Whether shopping at a specialty store or a big-box merchant, get the lightest bike you can afford, Strang said. Avoid bikes with dual suspension, which can make them heavier. Inexpensive bikes that are not well made can make riding more difficult and less enjoyable, and turn young riders off from the sport, Strang said. A high-quality used bike is a good alternative if cost is a concern.

4. Consider bypassing the training wheels. Bikes with training wheels teach children to pedal first, then how to balance. But balance bikes, which have become popular in the last three to five years, teach children to balance first and eliminate the reliance on training wheels. A balance bike has no pedals, so children push their feet on the ground to make the bike go, then use a footrest when coasting. Once a child has the balancing down, he can graduate to a bike with pedals. A balance bike at Spokes Etc. costs about $170.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tour de Fat is this Saturday!

Join bicyclists from around the DC Metro area for Tour de Fat on Saturday. FABB will be greeting attendees at the ID/Wristband booth. This is an opportunity to support FABB, WABA, and other local bike non-profits and raise funds for our advocacy works.  Bike valet will be provided.

Tour de Fat is a free all-day festival at Yards Park on Sat., June 1 for those who enjoy bicycles and beer. It’s silly, whimsical, and packed with activities, but also a great opportunity to celebrate the region’s growth in, commitment to, and love for bicycling.

The day kicks off with a bicycle parade at 11 a.m. (registration and check-in begins at 10 a.m.). Costumes are highly encouraged. The beer starts flowing at Noon. There will be music and entertainment, merchandise sales, a bicycle pit, and local shops and nonprofits staffing interactive tables and booths from Noon to 5 p.m.

See WABA's Tour de Fat page for more details. See you at the festival.

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Response to blog post about Del. LeMunyon's comments

Following my recent blog post about Del. LeMunyon's comments on the transportation funding, I received this email from Jenifer Joy Madden, a local transportation blogger and Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Transportation Advisory Commission (although her comments here are her own and not made in an official capacity):
As you note in your blog, some significant statements have been made in the past few weeks about bicycle transportation in the DC area.

First, on May 21 at the Greater Washington Board of Trade Regional Policy Forum on Transportation, host Jim Dinegar stated:

“Bike lanes have caused more heartburn in the business community than I ever anticipated,” apparently referring to the way bike lanes are being installed in the District in place or in lieu of car and/or bus lanes.Yet we know from the latest research presented by the League of American Bicyclists that cyclists and pedestrians can actually generate more revenue for local businesses than customers who drive.

A day later, Martin Nohe - a Prince William county district supervisor who heads the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority – when asked at a Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance forum about how funds will be allocated in the new Virginia transportation funding scheme, answered with this: “I can envision a day when VDOT builds the road, but NVTA can build the interchange and the locality adds ped and bike paths.”

At the same forum, as you have noted, Delegate LeMunyon was quick to say that he had in mind “a vision that the first year funding would result in the number of hours being put back into lives of the people of Northern Virginia that we could point to. I’m concerned where the Working Group is going on the NVTA regional list - for 70% funding for bus shelters, pedestrian bridge and lighting on a trail. That’s not why I voted to raise taxes. Of 34 projects, there is no information about how it will expand capacity or reduce congestion. That needs to be made available so we can say this is worth the effort.”

(On the current draft NVTA funding list, the city of Falls Church is asking for $1.7 million for design of pedestrian access to transit, funding for bus shelters, a pedestrian brige and lighting on the W&OD Trail.)
Nohe stressed that the current list is a draft and that there would be an open house and a public hearing in June after which the Authority would take action on a list of projects. Nohe also expressed concern that “a number of projects aren’t congestion relievers and that the data hasn’t yet been pulled" about how projects would add capacity and relieve congestion. LeMunyon then stated that information should be made available before the June meeting.

Following that exchange, Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada jumped in with “a word in support of trails,” saying that “in densely populated areas, our bike lanes and trails become increasingly critical.” He cited Arlington bike counts that are “off the charts – thousands and thousands, especially in warmer months.” He says his county will continue to focus on trails and lighting which are “important in urban setting. Imagine all those thousands of people in cars.”

Meanwhile, back on May 2 after Virginia Deputy Transportation Secretary David Tyeryar explained the new transportation bill at a Committee of One Hundred dinner in Vienna, I asked him point-blank about how bicycle and pedestrian facilities would be funded and he answered: “Talk to your Board of Supervisors.”

All things considered, it appears there are two fronts on which to act:

1. FABB and other multi-modal transportation advocacy groups must use the latest economic data to prove to officials and business owners region-wide that cyclists and pedestrians bring big business to local retailers and restaurateurs. Political leaders also need to understand that cycling projects produce a big bang for a minimal buck and that bike and ped projects can generate real jobs. Statistics to cite could include the National Building Museum's Intelligent Cities Initiative which notes that the reduced use of autos in DC has resulted in $128,275,000 being retained in the local economy each year. In Portland, Oregon, residents drive 20% less than other US cities which adds up to $1.1 billion of savings each year equalling 1.5% of the total personal income earned in the region, which is then spent mainly on local recreation, entertainment, food and drink. (See p.29-31, Walkable City by Jeff Speck)

2. Since it appears the last-mile buck will stop with Fairfax County in the form of "the 30%" of NoVA-only NVTA dollars, the Board of Supervisors must face up to their responsibility to the community. If they are the only authority which will fund our county’s bike and ped projects, then those projects must have a MUCH HIGHER PRIORITY than they have had in the past, especially when it comes to creating "last mile" connections to transit and to schools. To do that, the BOS and FCDOT will need to devote what looks like a disproportionately large amount of money to bicycle and pedestrian projects and staff because there will be no other funding from the state, while copious funds for roads projects will be forthcoming from "the 70%" that the NVTA will distribute for regional projects that "reduce congestion and increase capacity.

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Tommy show anti-bike rants

Phillip Troutman, a bike commuter and safe routes to school advocate, sent us the message below about anti-bike statements made on a local radio call-in show. The rants appear to have been encouraged by the show's hosts. Phillip decided to respond and sent this message to the show's programming contact:
I wanted to address the invited listener rants on the Tommy Show this morning. Please convey this email to the hosts of the show & let them know they can read any of it on the air.

I didn't hear much, but I heard just enough: listeners complaining about bicyclists using the public roads, complaining that bicyclists don't pay taxes for roads, and one even threatening to open her door on any bicyclists she saw that morning.

All this took place with the hearty laughter and encouragement and grateful "thank you for calling!" of the hosts. I did hear one brief suggestion that maybe we should all get on a bike to gain that perspective, but that point was quickly lost in the other rants. Maybe other voices of reason were heard later in the show, but this is the nature of morning radio: we only hear the bits on our way to work, etc.

Tommy may have thought about this as just airing listeners' opinions. But this isn't some "debate": the law is the law, and the show did a disservice to its listeners, when instead it could have done some useful education.

Joking about all this on the air in such a way as to further enrage already enraged drivers--especially during the morning rush hour-- is irresponsible. It is akin to joking about running over pedestrians legally using crosswalks, or running other cars off the road for going the speed limit.

I don't understand why Tommy assumed he has no listeners who actually ride bicycles. I hope he aired people who could give some facts:

1. All people have a right to the public roads (except where posted otherwise): people in cars, people on bikes, people walking, people in wheelchairs. Driving a motor vehicle does not give you more rights than others. In fact, your first duty as a driver is not to harm others using the roads.

2. Bicycles are legal vehicles whose rights drivers are legally bound to respect. This includes a bicyclists' legal right to take the full lane when needed. In Virginia, this is true even when there are bike lanes. Bicyclists often need to avoid glass, potholes, etc., in the bike lanes and shoulders.

3. Opening your door on a bicyclist, even by accident, is illegal in many states and is always dangerous. When people crash on a bike, it often results in broken collarbones, concussions, and the like.

4. Bicyclists contribute to public road funding in the same way everyone else does: through our general taxes, which is how roads are paid for, not vehicle licensing fees. (And in any case, most bicyclists also own cars.)

5. Yes, cyclists do stupid and aggressive things, too. Some cyclists, esp. in the District, are especially prone to running lights, etc. These people should be ticketed, not run over or "doored." And most don't ride this way. What drivers often assume is aggression is simply cyclists taking the lane for safety, as the law allows.

6. A bicyclists may occasionally slow you down. What, 15 seconds? 20? Passing unsafely, though, risks a human life. Please do the moral calculus.

Some personal perspective:

I ride to work because it is the most effecient and reliable way to get there. I live in Falls Church but have to drive my daughter to school in Springfield; I park there and then ride my bike into DC.

I have been hit three times by drivers while riding my bike. All three times the driver was at fault: 1. by a pickup truck with trailer passing me on a narrow bridge; 2. by a driver who rolled a stop sign without looking left; 3. by a driver who saw me in the bike trail crosswalk & decided he could make it through ahead of me. I see drivers doing stupid and aggressive things every single day.

At the same time, though, I see the same drivers on my long commute along Hummer, Heritage, & Annandale Roads, and I have to say I have never had a negative encounter there. These drivers see me using the shoulder when it is available. They see me coming over into the lane to avoid glass, trashcans, etc., and they give me room. They see me ride up along their right side at red lights (as the law allows me to do), so I can go through the light first (which is the safest place for a bicycle to be at an intersection). They know I'm not in their way and I won't slow them down. I thank them for that, and every day, I wish drivers would behave like this everywhere else I ride.

And in the future, I hope your show will avoid encouraging dangerous ranting and instead do some useful public education that will benefit all your listeners, including those who ride bikes.

I ride a bike because it is the best way to get to work: it is fast, it is better for my health, it is better for the environment, and yes, it is actually better for traffic congestion. So yes, I suppose that makes me one of those "bikists" one listener complained about. If we had more bikists, though, we might have less traffic congestion and fewer angry drivers.

Thank you,

Falls Church VA

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Town of Vienna bike route sign meeting notes

Last night the Vienna Transportation Safety Commission agreed to work with the Fairfax County Bike Coordinator, Charlie Strunk, a Town resident, to improve the existing bike route signage, based on public comments received at the meeting. They agreed with the chairman that it is best to make sure the initial phase is done well before moving on. Once the Town is satisfied with the existing signage they will begin signing an expanded bike route network in the second phase of the project.

Bob McCahill of the Bicycle Advisory Commission submitted numerous detailed comments about the current signs. The BAC is currently not meeting pending a review of their mission by the Mayor and Town Council. Several of Bob's comments involved the need for a few additional signs to help route cyclists. He also suggested that more wayfinding and destination signs be used.

We submitted the following comments:

Vienna Bicycle Route Signage

  • Need signs at important intersections of the W&OD Trail leading to major destinations. Signs should show direction and mileage to destinations and should be bi-directional (to and from Vienna).
    • Destinations:
      • Metro stations (Tysons, Dunn Loring, Vienna)
      • Library
      • Town Hall
      • Schools
      • Parks
      • Playgrounds
      • Tysons
      • Downtown Vienna
  • Need better route to Vienna Metro station. (We were later told that the "official" Metro route was along Tapawingo)
    • Courthouse/Locust route is incomplete
    • Courthouse is not bike-friendly
    • Courthouse needs shared lane markings or Bicycle May Use Full Lane signs where the road is narrower
  • I think the standard green and white bike route signs work better than the unique Vienna bike route signs.
  • Incorporate Vienna bike routes into the Tysons microfiber bike route map.
  • Install a kiosk at the Town Green showing information about the bike routes including a map.
  • Distribute handouts/maps of the bike routes at W&OD Trail kiosks, Vienna Community Center, merchants, and so forth.
  • Develop some scenic or historic signed bike routes/loops highlighting interesting sights.
We learned that Vienna Police have increased patrols on the W&OD Trail after a recent groping incident was reported by a female jogger near Talahi Rd SE.

Route signs will soon appear on Cottage St, a popular bike route leading to the Dunn Loring Metro station and the Merrifield area.

Driver wayfinding signage
It wouldn't be a bike meeting if someone didn't discuss scofflaw cyclists. J. Leonard Ignatowski said that he was a pedestrian and driver advocate and that if cyclists want rights then they need to stop at stop signs (of course all motorists stop at all stop signs and at red lights when turning right).

Motorists don't need signs to tell them where to go so why do we need all these bike route signs (I see three driver wayfinding signs in the image at the right of the Nutley St/Virginia Center Blvd intersection, and it was pointed out that cyclists need to know where the safe routes are located), and the classic, I pay gasoline taxes but cyclists get a free ride (we all pay taxes used to fund roads, especially local roads). His was a lone voice. Other commissioners seemed very supportive and willing to help cyclists find safe, convenient ways to navigate Vienna's streets.

Kudos to the Town for implementing their bike route network and continue to refine it. We look forward to riding in a more bike-friendly Vienna in the future.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

VDOT Six Year Improvement Program hearing on Wed.

VDOT is holding a public hearing on the Six Year Improvement Program on Wednesday at VDOT NoVa headquarters, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030. The meeting starts at 6pm with an open house and a chance to discuss projects included in the program. The public hearing starts after the open house. There will be a sign-up sheet for speakers. See the public hearing announcement. Earlier we incorrectly listed the date as May 28 on the FABB events page.

To see the list of projects included in the program, visit the online Six Year Improvement Program searchable database.  Cyclists are encouraged to attend the hearing and speak out about the importance of bicycle projects.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Del. LeMunyon opposes W&OD Trail funding

Virginia House Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-67th District), whose district is located just south of the Reston area, includes Chantilly, and extends down to I-66, is opposed to funding for the W&OD Trail improvements that are included in the list of projects to be funded with the new transportation bill. At a recent panel discussion hosted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, a group heavily supported by the construction and real estate sector, LeMunyon voiced his opposition to some of the bike/ped and transit projects:
Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67th) told the panel that some projects on the list – such as bus shelters, pedestrian bridges and lighting on the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail – ran afoul of the vision many legislators had when supporting the transportation bill, especially its regional component.
Maybe if he were to ride a bike from Purcellville to Shirlington on a nice spring weekend or during rush hour he might begin to understand the regional importance of the W&OD Trail. Perhaps his attitude explains why bike conditions in the Chantilly area are so poor, and why many of his constituents have to drive to the W&OD Trail to find a good place to ride. If you live in that area you might want to tell Del. LeMunyon that well-built and maintained bike projects are a critical part of our transportation network and that you support improvements to the W&OD Trail.

The project list that was discussed at the meeting is being developed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (same acronym as the above NVTA but a totally different group comprised of regional government officials) and is based on the TransAction 2040 list. TransAction 2040 is "a regional transportation plan for Northern Virginia, including transportation improvements of regional significance. The NVTA revises and amends this plan every five years."

Some of the trial projects on the TransAction 2040 list include the following. We especially like Arlington's plan to expand and enhance their on- and off-road bike network to facilitate expanded use of bicycles in the corridor:

  • Construct W&OD Trail Crossing (improvements) at Crestview Drive 
  • Construct trail along VA 7 from Leesburg to Alexandria 
  • Construct Van Buren Street Trail to Dulles Metrorail Station (extension from Folly Lick Trail) 
  • Construct the Sugarland Run Trail from existing terminus to pedestrian access pavilion of the future Herndon Metrorail station 
  • Construct a trail along Claiborne Parkway from Loudoun County Parkway to Ryan Road 
  • Construct a trail along VA 772 from Belmont Ridge Road to Ryan Road 
  • Construct a trail along Godwin Drive from Nokesville Road to Sudley Road 
  • Construct a trail along VA 659 (Belmont Ridge Road) from VA 7 to Ryan Road 
  • Construct a trail along Prince William Parkway from Nokesville Road to Dumfries Road 
  • Construct a trail along the Tri-County Parkway from Braddock Road to Sudley Road 
  • Introduce and expand bikesharing services in the Arlington portion of the corridor 
  • Reconstruct Rosslyn Circle with "Complete Streets" improvements 
  • City of Falls Church Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Traffic Calming improvements 
  • Expand and enhance Arlington’s network of on- and off-street bicycle/pedestrian facilities to facilitate expanded use of bicycles in the corridor 
  • Construct a trail along I‐66 from Sully Road to Paddington Lane 
  • Complete trail along U.S. 29 between Dixie Hill Road and Vietch Street 
  • Construct a trail along U.S. 50 from Nutley Street to Arlington Road

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

New bike lanes in Herndon

The Town of Herndon recently implemented a traffic calming project on the south end of Dranesville Road, between Herndon Parkway and Park Ave, a stretch of about 1/3 mile. The project includes bike lanes and a new raised median. Lanes were reduced from 4 regular travel lanes to 2 travel lanes and 2 bike lines, what is known as a "road diet." Similar road diets have been very successful in Reston on Soapstone Dr and Lawyers Rd.

Initially there was a proposal to install a roundabout at the Dranesville/Park intersection but residents were vocal in their opposition.

The photo at the top was taken on eastbound Park Ave approaching the Dranesville intersection, site of the proposed roundabout. Note the extra cargo on the back of Kerie's bike (three plant pots).

The second photo shows the bike lanes and new raised median on Dranesville Rd headed north toward the Herndon Parkway intersection.

The final photo shows where the bike lanes end at Herndon
Parkway. About .5 miles north of here bike lanes extend from Herndon High School to Route 7, a distance of about 1.8 miles. The next step will be to connect these two segments of bike lanes between Herndon Parkway and the high school (about .5 miles).

Let's hope the new bike lanes are a sign of good things to come in Herndon.

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Article on Springfield Bike to Work Day pit stop

FABB attended all of the Fairfax Bike to Work Day events. The Springfield stop was the subject of the article Springfield Joins Bike to Work Day. FABB's Paul Kent can be seen in the photo on the far right.

Below is a quote from pit stop manage Nancy-jo Manney, executive director of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, on the benefits of Bike to Work Day:

“It’s about encouraging people to get out of their cars, be healthier,” said Manney. But the event, which is sponsored by Virginia Megaprojects, Commuter Connections, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, also helps open a productive dialogue feedback from riders.

 “It helps us determine where there are issues,” she continued. “We can’t just snap our fingers, but we can take some of these things we hear, and say, ‘Now let’s do something about it.’” 

According to Manney, issues that can typically get rapid responses include obstructions on trails and sidewalks, debris clean-up, locked gates and signal malfunctions at intersections.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vienna bike route sign meeting May 28 - Updated May 23

Sign posted at W&OD Trail and Maple Ave
The Vienna Transportation Safety Commission is holding a meeting on "Bike Route Signage: Current and Proposed." The meeting is Tuesday, May 28 starting at 8pm at the Vienna Town Hall, 127 Center St S. According to a sign posted at the W&OD Trail and Maple Ave, "All Interested Individuals Are Invited To Attend."

A while back the Town Bicycle Advisory Committee developed a number of bike routes throughout the town and some signs went up on those routes. In our opinion there are not enough signs to lead a cyclist along the routes. There are a few signs but not the density that's needed to allow you to just follow the signs.

We've asked if any additional information about the meeting is available, including any proposals that will be discussed. It would be helpful to have that information before the meeting.

Update: We asked if there is more information about the bike route signage meeting and this was the response: "We're just asking the public if the current signage is working. If not, we'd like to find out what improvements are needed." Seems like there should be a bit more structure to the meeting but it sounds like it will be an open forum. If you'd like more info about bicycle signs and how they are used, see the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) chapter on bicycle wayfinding signage.

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Wiehle Ave trail closed near W&OD Trail

Due to construction related to the new Wiehle Ave Metro station, the trail on Wiehle Ave from the W&OD Trail to the Sunset Hills Road intersection is closed. Trail Closed signs have been in place for nearly two weeks but no work was being done. Last week I joined an onsite meeting with VDOT and county staff and the representative from the company doing the work, Comstock. Actually I butted into their meeting to explain why it was inconsiderate to block the trail for no apparent reason.

Wiehle Ave trail at Sunset Hills Rd
The contractor rep stated that utility work needed to be done at the intersection. He closed the trail so that some time during the next two weeks the work could get done. He didn't want to have to drop everything when the utility contractor showed up. While we were standing at the opposite corner, several people used the blocked trail and intersection. The Comstock rep stated that he can't keep people from doing stupid things. My response should have been that they seemed smart enough to see that the trail was closed for no apparent reason and that closing the trail seemed pretty stupid. Besides, most of the people I've seen walking in this area, who are forced into the road, work for the contractor.

To their credit, the VDOT rep suggested that the trail be opened until work started. That was almost a week ago and the trail was never opened and only today did we see any sign of work being done.

There was a "detour" around the closed trail segment. It involved crossing Wiehle Ave, crossing Sunset Hills Rd, and crossing Wiehle Ave again, dodging "right turn never stops on red" traffic. The photo on the left shows what this detour looked like right after the trail was closed. There's a dump truck parked in both crosswalks and a paving crew has coned off the crosswalk across Sunset Hills Rd. Those "stupid" people who used the closed trail maybe weren't so stupid after all.

For people who parked in the lot called Reston North, they were trapped. Unless they caught a bus that stops in the lot, there was no legal way for them to cross the street. They couldn't reach the W&OD Trail because of the Trail Closed sign. They couldn't use the crosswalk because it was closed, and the crosswalk at the other end was under construction. We were assured that they all caught a bus. He must not have seen my wife who parked their the other day and crossed the street to catch the 505 bus.

There will be construction in this area for many months. If you can, I would avoid the intersection. From where I live near South Lakes HS I can reach the W&OD Trail using two other routes: South Lakes Dr to Sunrise Valley Dr to the W&OD Trail if I'm headed east, and South Lakes Dr to Pinecrest Dr to Glade Dr to the Fairfax Co Parkway trail to the W&OD Trail if I'm headed west.

About 10 years ago Supervisor Hudgins wrote a memo to county staff asking what procedures are in place to provide temporary access for pedestrians and bicyclists during construction. Apparently it's still a work in progress.

When FABB reps met with VDOT reps about closure of the Fairfax County Parkway trail, we asked for the following: That trail closures be treated like a road closure: Avoid if at all possible, provide a detour, close for as short a time as possible, provide advance notification, provide ongoing notification regarding status of the closure, and provide information about alternative routes if a detour is not provided. VDOT staff assured us that ped/bike detours are included in all new projects, even the smallest project. This is not a VDOT project.

Comstock has done a good job of providing pedestrian and bike access along the Wiehle Ave trail in front of their main construction site at the station. They need to do a better job at this intersection.

Update: Today (May 23) we rode by this intersection and saw this group of construction workers walking around the Trail Closed barrier and crossing in the close crosswalk. I believe they were headed to the Comstock development. One of the works actually walked into the sign when he looked back at his co-workers. They are a fine example to others on how to deal with the closed trail.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No harm, no foul

The day of our last FABB meeting one of our members, John, was riding on Gallows Rd headed north near Annandale Rd where he was struck by a motorist's vehicle. Below is John's account of the incident, including his attempt to report it to Fairfax Co Police. Because John was not severely injured and his bike wasn't damaged, police said there was nothing they could do, even though John had a description of the vehicle and the driver.

Had John wanted to press charges he could have requested that a report be written, then traveled to the Magistrate's office to seek a summons. If the summons was issued, the motorist could receive a ticket. See our summary of this process in an earlier blog posting. In this case the motorist did not pass at least two feet to the left of the bicyclist and met at least one definition of an aggressive driver (passing when overtaking a vehicle).

John does not think the motorist intentionally struck him but from reading his account, you could draw a different conclusion. He and I agree that there should be a way for cyclists to report aggressive drivers without having to go through the gyrations of physically going to the Fairfax courthouse and filing a complaint with the magistrate's office. If we can report a litter we should be able to report an aggressive driver.

Here's John's account:
In Annandale, four lane 35-mph residential artery Gallows Road is not the best place to ride a bicycle because drivers want to drive much faster. By virtue of the street design, however, there are few viable alternatives for bicycle riding from Annandale to Merrifield, and, since I was headed from Annandale across the beltway to INOVA Fairfax, that is where I chose to ride my bicycle, taking the lane, since the lanes are rather narrow. 

Not that it should matter what I was wearing, but as someone who does not want to be involved in a crash, I was wearing a helmet, a bright reflective construction zone vest with neon green and orange, and neon green reflective bands around my ankles and wrists. My bicycle had a steady front light and steady red rear light on (thanks to a dynamo hub). During rush hours, night, or high-traffic times, I will also turn on a rear red blinky light on my helmet. At night I will also turn on a white strobe on my helmet.

About 2pm I was headed northwest on Gallows Road on 15 May in beautiful weather. I stopped for a yellow light at the intersection with Annandale Road. Some vehicles pulled alongside me and behind me. When the light turned green I proceeded across. After about 100 feet or so, the driver of a silver van behind me honked. I turned and waved at him. He gestured at me to get on the sidewalk.

As a side note, there is a sidewalk for one short block, but the next block the sidewalk is overgrown and in disrepair. A few seconds later as I continued in the center of the right lane, I felt what seemed like a roundhouse kick underneath my left arm and saw the silver van inches away to my left. With a loud pop, the van’s passenger side mirror had buckled inward (thank goodness) from the impact with my arm, immediately above my elbow. 

I yelled at the driver to stop, which he did immediately. Extremely fortunate for me I stayed upright on the bicycle since no part of the van hit my bicycle, the speed differential was not very large, probably no more than 10 miles an hour, and the collapsing side mirror reduced the severity of the blow.

Now, some may think this was an intentional assault, since he clearly saw me when he honked at me. However, after our short discussion, I do not think that was the case. With surprise I was looking into my father’s eyes. Well, since my father has been gone a decade, the eyes conveyed the same impression of sheepishness and defiance as were in my 80-something year old father’s eyes when my mother described a slow speed but expensive accident he had had in backing into a parking space. I interpreted the look as “yes, I screwed up, maybe I’m getting too old to drive, but don’t make me give up my mobility.” 

The driver was an older man driving a van with handicapped plates, and said he was just trying to pass with traffic. In disbelief, I said I had never been hit by a car in over a decade of bicycle commuting. He admitted he did not know that bicycle riders had the legal right to the road or that he had to pass with at least two feet clearance. After a minute or so of discussion, I decided my arm was not hurt and that this driver had just made a major error in judgment. I popped his side mirror back into its place and we both moved along.

Subsequently, I wondered if this should be reported, since I may have been too sympathetic and if this driver had a record of bad driving, then maybe something should be additionally documented in his files. I went to the Mason District police station, told the story to the dispatcher, and was told, essentially, “no harm, no foul.” She said since this was an “accident” with no property damage or injury, it was not reportable. Even if a policeman had shown up on scene, she said the patrolman would have given the same answer. So the police records will show nothing about this little incident.

Anyway, my arm may not have been hurt, but this episode certainly injured my expectation that drivers are reasonably competent in being able to change lanes.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Fantastic Bike to Work Day

Riding from Herndon to Reston
What a great day for Bike to Work Day. The weather was perfect and it was impressive to see so many cyclists out enjoying the day and celebrating biking to work.

Kerie and I started at the Reston pit stop that we've helped organize for the past 12 years. Fortunately Reston Association has taken over management of the pit stop which allowed us to check out some of the other events. Reston was the first Fairfax pit stop back in 2002. Now there are 11.

We said hi to Todd from The Bike Lane at the Reston stop. Todd's wife Anne attended the first FABB meeting in 2005. FABB volunteers Rob and Kelley were providing advice on bike routes. As we were leaving Del. Ken Plum, who may have attended almost every Reston event over the years, stopped to say hi.

After Reston we rode to Herndon to visit with Tom and Mike of FABB and take some photos. The pit stop was adjacent to the W&OD Trail and it was buzzing with activity. A-1 Cycling, another early FABB supporter, was providing free checkups.

Next we rode to Vienna which was overrun with cyclists. Liz and Susan, with the help of Jeff Palmer from Spokes, Etc, managed to sign up nearly 60 people for the FABB newsletter. Tim Fricker of bikes@vienna was also there. FABB's first meetings were held at that shop.

Next we visited the Merrifield-W&OD Trail stop that was just closing down, but the Performance mechanic was still working on bikes. From there we rode to the Merrifield-Mosaic stop that
FABB at the Vienna pit stop
was about to close. We took a photo with John, our FABB rep there. This was their first year as a pit stop and they had around 40 cyclists, which is OK for a first year event. Alex of Freshbikes was checking over people's bikes.

Final stop in Tysons
Finally we rode north past the Dunn Loring Metro station to reach the Gallows Road bike lanes north of I-66 and continued north to the Tysons pit stop in front of the LL Bean store at Tysons Corner Center mall. They had blocked off the parking lot in front of the store and they reported a decent turnout. LL Bean mechanics were checking out bikes there.

Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to get to Burke VRE Station (Alan), Fairfax Corner (Fionnuala), Fairfax City Downtown (Douglas, Charlie, and Jim), Mt. Vernon-Collingwood Park (Eric), or Springfield/Metro Park (Paul). Thanks to all the FABB volunteers for helping out today.

All in all the day was a huge success. We hope that many more cyclists discovered the joys of biking to work and that they continue to ride throughout the year. We also hope everyone has a safe ride home.

Cyclists crossing Maple Ave in Vienna

Vienna pit stop

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fairfax County applies for funding for bikeshare feasibility study

Fairfax County recently applied for funding of a bikesharing feasibility study through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation/Land Use Connections (TLC) Technical Assistance Program. "The TLC Technical Assistance Program provides focused consultant assistance to local jurisdictions working on creative, forward-thinking and sustainable plans and projects."

While several areas in the county could support bike sharing, the study will focus on the Reston area. Reston has a network of recreational trails, concentrated mixed-use development at the Reston Town Center, Village Centers located within easy biking distance of most residents, and the soon-to-be-completed Wiehle Ave Metro station. Much more needs to be done to make Reston truly bike-friendly but we think bike sharing could work there.

Last year we wrote an article about the feasibility of bikesharing in Reston. The article was cross posted on Reston Patch.

Below is a letter from Chairman Bulova to MWCOG regarding the application:
In March of 2013, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) released its request for FY2014 Transportation/Land Use Connections (TLC) Technical Assistance Program applications. This program is designed to provide technical assistance to local jurisdictions working on creative, forward-thinking and sustainable transportation and land use plans and projects. In response to MWCOG’s request, please find attached for your consideration an application for conducting a feasibility study titled, “A Study to Explorethe Feasibility of Implementing Capital Bikeshare in Reston, Virginia”.

With the popularity of Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) growing in Arlington, the District, and now Alexandria, we are receiving more and more requests to bring CaBi to Fairfax County. While we acknowledge that many areas of the County can’t support bike sharing, we strongly believe that it can work in in our emerging urbanized centers and transit station areas such as Tysons Corner, Merrifield-Dunn Loring, and Reston. However, further study is required to determine the feasibility of Capital Bikeshare: can it work in an urbanized center such as those mentioned, what are the associated costs (both capital and operating), Where should the stations be located, and how many stations and bikes are needed to make this system successful?

Technical assistance through the “Transportation/Land Use Connections Program” can provide the necessary guidance and support to define the feasibility of Capital Bikeshare and address these issues. After consultation with our Department of Transportation bicycle program staff as well as bicycle advocates, the Reston area of the County was chosen. Our reasoning is based on the following: the Reston area has the highest concentration of active bicyclists in the County, there is an emerging bike culture forming, Reston embraced our first two road-diet projects which included bike lanes, and there is strong corporate and residential support to initiate bike sharing in Reston. Furthermore, the findings developed from conducting this study can assist other areas of the region in making sound decisions regarding bike sharing.

I believe this application is in the spirit of the TLC program and will aid in the County’s planning efforts to accomplish the goal of balancing multi-modal transportation and landuse. 
In July 2011 Charlie Denney of Capital Bikeshare was interviewed by Delegate Ken Plum on the benefits of bikesharing:

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Bike commuting on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge

Today's Post contains a good article on the importance of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to bike commuters:
Photo: Washington Post
The new span was a massive, regional undertaking, intended to speed vehicle travel on the Capital Beltway, and the path planned for pedestrians and cyclists was a tiny piece of the project when it was sketched out more than a decade ago.

At the time, the boom in bike commuting was years away. But as thousands of people across the region prepare for Bike to Work Day on Friday, the planners are looking very smart.

Prince George’s officials said use of the 3.5-mile Wilson Bridge trail has increased dramatically since it opened in 2009. In March, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission recorded 26,827 crossings, up from 13,998 in March 2012. (In both cases, a trip back and forth was counted as two crossings.)

“The more the region interconnects these various bike trails and bike lanes, it just makes biking a more attractive option, not only for commuting but also for other activities,” said Robert Griffiths, a transportation specialist at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Biking as a way to commute has surged in the Washington area, particularly in the District, which is considered one of the country’s leading cities for bike commuting.
The article goes on to discuss the importance of connecting bike facilities on each side of the bridge. The same is true of the new crossings of the Beltway that were built as part of the HOT lanes project. The crossings help but we need to do a better job of connecting them to the surrounding bike network.

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Bike to Work Day on Friday

The weather forecast is looking good for Bike to Work Day on Friday. We encourage all cyclists to sign up for this fun event celebrating biking to work. While many of us already bike to work most days, we still participate in the event. It's fun, we get a free t-shirt and other goodies at the pit stops, and we add to the count of bike commuters in the region.

MWCOG tracks the numbers of bike commuters over the years and each year the number grows. Last year over 12,500 cyclists signed up for the event and it looks like that record will be broken this year.

FABB will have reps at most of the Fairfax pit stops. As a sponsored project of WABA, we'll also be representing them by selling discounted memberships. Look for FABB reps at your Fairfax pit stop and if you're not on our newsletter/advocacy list you can sign up with them (or just send us a note asking to be added to the list).

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bike to School Day 2013 - Summary report

Thanks to Jeff Anderson, leader of Wolfie's Bike Train at Wolftrap Elementary School, FABB member, and recipient of this year's WABA Education Award, for the following summary report of Bike to School Day. If you have more news, please leave a comment. The event was a great success and we hope the turnout is an indication that more kids will be biking to school and for other short trips in the years to come:

Bike to School Day 2013

Marshall Road ES
The second annual National Bike to School Day was held on May 8th. More than 1,400 schools across the nation participated with 85 in Virginia. Of those 85, 35 were Fairfax County Public Schools. This was a 75% increase over last year's 20 schools participating. Rain threatened some of the planned events with some schools opting to postpone until May 10th. A few intrepid schools, including those who run bike and walk events all year, carried on and fortunately the weather cooperated. Maybe it was a result of Vienna-based Wolftrap Elementary taking part in broadcasting WJLA ABC7's morning weather report as they prepped for the day and scaring the weather demons away.

In preparation for May 8th, a few schools, Marshall Road ES and Oak View ES, held bike rodeos the weekend before whilst Vienna ES held a bike and trail safety session during school the Friday before. This is great news as we need more bike and pedestrian safety curriculum to be taught to future members of FABB.

Wolftrap ES - Check out all the bikes!
Many schools ran their first ever bike to school day events. In Reston, all seven elementary schools participated for the first time and ran a "most bikes in the rack" challenge. Hunters Woods ES has a very challenging transportation climate. They are a "Magnet" school which means they draw kids from around the county. They ran their first bike train (35 bikes) with a Fairfax County Police Bike Patrol escort. Terraset racks were full with around 115 kids bikes. Thanks to the Reston Association's PBAC for getting the word out and recruiting their members to volunteer their time. Leading up to Bike to School Day, Kent Gardens in McLean used a bicycle to teach simply machines as part of their Science, Technology, Engineering & Math program/ They had over 100 bikers riding to school.

Hollin Meadows ES
At the other end of the County, Hollin Meadows ES ran their postponed event on the 10th and had over 90 bikes in their racks. Delegate Scott Surovell led one of the groups riding to school. Flint Hill ES (which had 61 kids bike) in Vienna had a fun spin on the day by awarding PE credit for distance walking or biking if they mapped out their route on google and showed the PE Teacher.

And the fun wasn't limited to elementary schools. Kilmer Middle School participated as they always do with over 110 bikers whilst three other middle schools (Rocky Run, Luther Jackson and South County) ran smaller sized events. Even two high schools, Annandale and Woodson, participated - a first for FCPS. Woodson has four History teachers who regularly commute to work via bike, so look for big things from them next year.

Reston bike patrol at Hunters Woods ES
In Vienna, six elementary schools ran their Bike/Walk Challenge week, now in it's fifth year. It's a week long challenge of getting kids to walk or bike to school, challenging parents to avoid KissNRide and challenging each other to massive trophies - the Challenge Cup and the Bike Cup. This year, Wolftrap ES walked away with the Challenge Cup with over 1150 trips to school made by students over the course of 5 days. Vienna ES retained the Bike Cup after first timer Westbriar ES took the lead early, only to be overtaken by Wolftrap with 102 bikes in the racks on National Bike to School Day. Wolftrap went into the final day with a lead in the Bike Cup but Vienna pulled out a huge bike day w/ 113 bikes in the racks, surpassing Wolftrap's second 100+ bike day.

One of the Hunters Woods ES bike trains
Bike trains were running all over Vienna all week - some with bike patrol police escort and teachers and some with local Professionals and 6x World Champions. Congrats to the kids of Cunningham Park, Louise Archer, Marshall Road, Vienna, Westbriar & Wolftrap for recording over 5,000 trips by foot or pedal. Rumor has it those 7 schools in Reston are gearing up for a Reston vs. Vienna Challenge. Wouldn't that be fun......

Overall May 8th - National Bike to School Day in Fairfax County was a great success and we look forward to International Walk to School Day in October.

Side Note: Arlington Public Schools participated for the first time this year, with all 31 schools promoting the day and running various events. Although Fairfax is 7x larger than Arlington, wouldn't be amazing to see all 140 FCPS elementary schools participating!

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Updated Bike Program website includes interactive bike map

The Fairfax County Bike Program recently updated their Bike Pages website. It now includes an interactive bike map containing gis layers from the printed route map along with several other map layers. The route map has been available for several years. FABB helped to create the map by advocating for funding and reaching out to local cyclists to find bicycle-friendly routes.

Users can choose from several background maps including streets, streets with topography, elevation, imagery, and a background image provided by National Geographic. One of the most interested background maps is from OpenStreetMap, a public domain source created by the user community. It contains very detailed trail information in some areas.

The map layers are derived from the paper Bicycle Route Map but they also include more detailed trails shown in the Fairfax Trail Buddy layer. A sidewalk layer only appears at very large scales. An interesting feature is the ability to click on a map feature and find out more information. Clicking on a road symbol brings up the meaning of the symbol (usually Preferred or Less Preferred), who maintains the facility (almost always VDOT), the speed limit, and the bicycle level of service category (A-F).

When the trail layer is queried, the width and surface are displayed along with who maintains the trail. We often find trails in poor condition and determining who is responsible for maintenance is difficult. Now there is a source to find out who to call. While the data are not complete, it's a great resource.

We've played with the map for a while and we're impressed. Display speeds are good, there's a wide variety of backgrounds to choose from, and the information about the data is readily available. It would be nice to have more information about the map sources such the Trail Buddy layer and the scale-dependant sidewalk layer. It would also be nice if one could query the sidewalk layer. Overall it's an excellent start. Kudos to Fairfax DOT and the bicycle program staff!

Another enhancement to the Bike Pages site is a new section on funded Bike Projects. Project Name, Scope of the project, Funding Source, and Status are listed. We'd like to see more detailed information, but having this list is an excellent resource. I can see it growing to include unfunded but high priority projects based on the draft Bicycle Master Plan.

Below are two screen shots from the interactive map showing the Streets background and the OpenStreetMap background. For comparison, a Google Map screen shot is displayed showing the bicycle layer. More detail is available when zoomed in on the interactive maps.

Street Layer with Trails
Open Street Map with Trails
Google Maps with bicycle layer

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New bike signage in McLean

Earlier this month approximately 80 bike route signs were installed throughout the downtown area of McLean providing directions and information. The signage was the product of the Fairfax County bicycle coordinator, FABB members, and other cyclists. Dranesville Supervisor Foust was instrumental in getting funding for purchasing and installing the signs.

Bike route directions are provided to the new Silver Line Tyson-McLean station, and the West Falls Church station. The signage also directs cyclists toward the W&OD trail, Arlington and more. This is one of the first installations of wayfinding signage in Fairfax County based on new bicycle sign standards.

Thanks to Supervisor Foust for supporting this project, to the county bike program staff, and to McLean cyclists who advocated for the signs, especially FABB's Dennis Frew, who provided much of the above information. We hope this is just the beginning of a comprehensive network of signed bike routes throughout the county.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Montgomery Co police conduct crosswalk sting operation

Photo: Montgomery Co Police
Seventy two motorists received tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks in Montgomery County. Plain clothes police, which is actually a misnomer in this case because they were wearing brightly colored shirts, conducted a crosswalk sting operation last week.
During this pedestrian enforcement, plain clothes officers dressed in bright clothing cross the street in marked crosswalks. Officers stop vehicles that do not yield to the plain clothes officers or other pedestrians in the crosswalk, and drivers are issued citations. General traffic law is also enforced. Traffic Division officers will continue this type of pedestrian enforcement throughout the month of May.
When I was on the Fairfax Co Non-motorized Transportation Committee (now the Trails and Sidewalks Committee) county police were asked to conduct a similar sting operation and they reacted by saying it was too dangerous. I'm not sure if they got the irony of their response.

Anyone how rides on a trail that crosses a road with a crosswalk has encountered motorists who refuse to yield. In my experience, most motorists will yield when I'm IN the crosswalk. Some yield when I approach the crosswalk. According to Virginia law, motorists are required to YIELD to pedestrians and bicyclists in a crosswalk. I believe one difference between Maryland and Virginia is that motorists in Maryland are required to STOP for pedestrians in a crosswalk. The weaker wording of the VA law means the law can be interpreted more loosely.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bikeways are good for business

New York DOT recently completed a study that shows that where protected bikeways are installed, local businesses thrive:
NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.

In many ways, these data come as no surprise. We know that when towns invest in bicycle infrastructure, people will ride more — the number of people traveling by bicycle increases when there is infrastructure to make traveling by bike safe and easy.

We also know that people who travel along a street by bicycle have fewer barriers to stopping at a local business than people who travel along the same street by car. It's very easy to hop off a bicycle and find a place to secure the bike; not so with finding parking for an automobile. In fact, a recent study suggest that bicycle riders tend to spend more at local businesses over the course of a month.
Imagine what Maple Ave in Vienna would be like if there were a cycletrack running the length of the Town. As it is, the street is not a pleasant place to walk or bike. The sidewalks are narrow and many businesses have turned their backs to the street and have entrances in the rear. In Tysons, Route 7 and Route 123 would be completely different, more welcoming places with cycletracks or other protected bikeways. Would motorists go any slower than they do now during rush hour? Probably not. Would speeds be slower during other times? Probably yes.

It will be really interesting to see what effect bike sharing will have on New York.
City officials say the nation's largest bike-sharing system will begin sometime this month with 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, with plans to expand eventually to 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

"When you talk about scale, no other U.S. city comes close," says Jon Orcutt, policy director at the city's Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the launch of the program.

Officials hope the privately funded bike-sharing program, dubbed Citi Bike after a $41 million sponsorship from Citibank and an additional $6.5 million from MasterCard, will add riders to the more than 700 miles of bike lanes throughout New York and will be used by one-way commuters and round-trip tourists alike.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Vienna Bike/Walk Challenge results

Bike to School Day was Wednesday. Vienna area schools held their annual bike/walk challenge this week and Vienna Patch has the results:
For the second consecutive year, Vienna Elementary School won the Biking Cup in theFifth Annual Bike/Walk Challenge — but WolftrapElementary came from behind to claim the Challenge Cup.

Read: Vienna Bike/Walk Challenge: Day 5 Results

The Biking Cup is given to the school with the highest percentage of bike riders relative to the total number of participants. Of the 805 total participants Vienna Elementary had this week, 258 — 32.04 percent — came in on bikes.

At Wolftrap and Westbriar Elementary schools, 28.91 and 23.68 percent of all participants, respectively, used bikes to get to school.

Bike to School sign at Terraset ES
The Challenge Cup is awarded to the school with the largest percentage increase in participants over last year's challenge. Wolftrap Elementary attracted 68 more students this year for a total of 1,155 participants overall, compared with 1,087 in 2011.
We hope to have a summary report of Bike to Work Day activities around the county. Some of the Reston schools postponed their Wednesday event due to the weather forecast and their event was held today. We saw this sign near Terraset Elementary School in Reston warning motorist about the event. We checked out the bike racks at Terraset were impressed to see 92 bikes. Way to go Terraset!

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roll Models

Today's Post contains a good article on WABA's Women & Bicycles program:
Women & Bicycles Rock Creek Park ride
Photo: Washington Post
Although it officially launched in March, the program has been in the works over the past few years, as WABA and other bike advocates across the country have taken notice of the fact that women represent just 24 percent of cyclists.

No one had ever tried to do much about the disparity, says Carolyn Szczepanski, spokeswoman for the League of American Bicyclists, which is helping fund the effort. But no one knew what to do. “We’re not a homogenous group, and there’s no silver-bullet solution. It’s not like none of us gets helmet hair, and everything’s solved,” she says.

After a whole lot of forums, surveys and fundraising, WABA has come up with a plan based on the Mary Kay model. Ten women have been selected as “Roll Models.” Their job is to coax friends and acquaintances who haven’t been biking to attend a themed dinner party. Over beer and burritos, they’ll dive into a women’s bicycling workbook.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weather cooperates for Bike to School Day

Despite a forecast of rain, it was a beautiful morning to celebrate Bike to School Day. We'll have a summary of the day later in the week. A couple of FABB members attended the Hunters Woods Elementary School event. By the time class has started there were 34 bikes in the racks. The kids seemed to have a great time and the parents did a great job organizing the event.

34 bikes at Hunters Woods ES

Treats for kids who rode to Hunters Woods
ABC7 News visited Wolfie's Bike Train of Wolf Trap Elementary School and had the kids help with the morning weather forecast.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

A look at the Commonwealth Transportation Board members

The 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) is appointed by the governor. They set the "administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. When FABB ask for funding from VDOT for bicycle projects, those hearings are held before the CTB. The CTB updates the VDOT Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) every year. "The CTB allocates funds for the first fiscal year of the SYIP but the remaining five years are estimates of future allocations." See a summary of this decision-making process in the first part of this presentation.

The Tysons Corner recently published "Commonwealth Transportation Board: Who Are They?" a look at the members of the Board:
The CTB is similar to a board of directors for a college, possessing no ability to enact policy or make final budget decisions, but capable of guiding the conversation, acting as go-betweens in the process from public need to master plan to construction. At least that is the intended purpose.

Over the past decade there has been growing discontent from the public that transportation needs are not being adequately met. Some projects which face local opposition are strong armed through politically, while others that enjoy near universal approval (such as a comprehensive plan for the Safe Routes to School project) are ignored or otherwise unfunded.

So who are these appointed members who are meant to make our transportation network work better? And why is Virginia’s transportation network, specifically Northern Virginia’s, continuously ranked below average or near the bottom even though our spending per capita on transportation (at approximately $4 billion per year) is consistently at the top.

Gary Garczynsky

Mr. Garczynsky isn’t just from the home building and real estate industry, he’s a hall of famer. As Northern Virginia’s representative on the CTB he has been silent on popular small scale transit solutions such as Light Rail in Arlington, bus route expansion, or urban development. That might be because when you develop over 6000 houses and serve as president of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association AND president of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, you often find yourself out pushing the fringes of the existing development zones. Which might explain why he is such a vocal proponent of the Outer Beltway, a project that will benefit less than 0.3% of the Northern Virginia population, while using up over $1 billion dollars of much needed funds. The project will come very close to his offices in Woodbridge (a town on the cross roads of the Prince William Parkway and I-95).

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